Arie Luyendyk: The Flying Dutchman is 70

by Rainer Braun - Automatic translation from German

On 21 September 2023, Dutchman Arie Luyendyk will turn 70. The two-time Indy 500 winner has also left his mark in this country.

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For many older German fans, the name Arie Luyendyk will certainly ring a bell. That was the time in the 1970s when he was one of the best in the junior monoposto racing series Formula V and Formula Super Vau Europe. Great duels, especially with Axel Plankenhorn, for the European Super Vau title are still fresh in his memory.

Arie's great role model was his father Jaap. As a father/son team, the two competed in Formula Vee races in Holland and had the pleasure of competing against each other in the Formula Vee 1300 with identical material, the same livery and the same sponsor. This is how the first father/son team in FV history came about in 1972. And the old Luyendyk thus became a kind of cult figure in the early days of Formula V 1300 in the Netherlands.

Despite being 50 years old, Arie's old man was not only a tough nut to crack for many a young competitor, but also a passionate screwdriver with eternally oil-smeared hands. Together, father and son Luyendyk fought for many a podium place. Both relied on the Karringer construction from Germany, shared the first row of the grid several times, especially on their home track in Zandvoort, and even took a double victory there.

Arie soon outgrew the Formula V 1300, switched to the more powerful Super V and competed in the DM and EM series. After a tough duel with Axel Plankenhorn, the Dutchman won the European Championship title. The next stop was the Formula 3 European Championship and it didn't take long for US racing to take an interest in the talented young racer from 's-Hertogenbosch.

An offer to race in the American Super Vee series marked the beginning of Arie Luyendyk's career in the USA. He won the title here too at the first attempt, and further championships followed.

From 1984 onwards, he made his first starts in the IndyCar Series, where he finished the inaugural season with the "Rookie of the Year" award - and incidentally received the nickname "Flying Dutchman". Five years later, Arie hit the big time in 1990 - winning the legendary Indy 500. His second Indy victory followed in 1997, and he was on pole three times in total.

Before that, Arie had already made the switch as a regular driver to the Indy Racing League in 1996, where he fought for victories for another two years. From 1999 to 2003 he only competed in the Indy 500.

After that, he slowly let his professional career fade away. By the way, his sideline successes included victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Son Arie Jun. also raced for a long time in the USA, mainly in the Indy Lights series. But his successes remained modest and far behind those of his famous father. On the other hand, the Americans know him all the more as a participant in the TV show "The Bachelor".

Today, Arie Luyendyk lives with his family near Phoenix/Arizona. At least once a year he visits his old home, meets up with friends or drops by Zandvoort. He still has a flat in the small town of 's-Hertogenbosch.

Motorsport still plays an important role in the life of the jubilarian. For example, he is regularly on duty as a jury member and permanent steward of the IndyCar race management.

And then he also keeps a watchful eye on the young talent from his home country: He looks after the IndyCar driver Rinus van Kalmthout (23) in the USA. Like his teacher and advisor, he was also "Rookie of the Year" and is now in his fourth season with the Ed Carpenter Racing team. In 2021 and 2022 he finished twelfth overall.

Because the Americans can hardly pronounce the Dutchman's name, he is only listed there as "VeeKay".

Dear Arie, the Speedweek editorial team congratulates you very warmly and sends all the best wishes for your 70th birthday across the pond.

And the author of the birthday story fondly remembers the Formula Vee time together with you in this country and a reunion in 2013 together with colleague Rene de Boer in your hometown.